Volume 63 – Issue 3 21 March 2023
From the Brass Hat
Hi everyone and welcome to summer (or so it seems). We had a streak of hot weather that broke a lot of records for February. It came at a good time because we were able to do a lot of work (between rain showers) around the yard and get some things going and get some others finished. Thanks to all who were involved. I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday, 19 Feb when I showed up expecting one or two folks. I think there were over a dozen who came out to help with some switching, work on the big trailer and help with 17 repair prep.
As I said in an earlier email to the entire organization, I am pleased that Joe Mills withdrew his resignation from the Board, based on a dramatic improvement in Vicki’s health over a short period. We are all thankful that she is doing better.
We got a nice video segment on Spectrum News mid-month. The story and link are available elsewhere in this publication. We also had the team from Steam Operations Corporation in to work on fixing locomotive 17 up. They will return a few more times over the next couple of months and an FRA inspection will verify that we are cleared to continue with the next steps. Detailed planning continues. (See late breaking news at the end of the newsletter.)
We also had some changes last month with which will affect many of us. Our major “Set Decorator”, Shannon Curtin, has retired as the head of getting all the Seasonal Special Events together (think Easter Bunnies, Ghosts and Elves). She has agreed to coordinate our Hop Into Spring ride prep this year and teach everyone what goes where and how to set it up and store it. Thanks to Shannon for her imagination and hard work over the past decade or so. The caliber of those rides has certainly improved over the years. After the Easter rides, Gina Casselberry (known in some circles to be a flying witch) has agreed to lead the Halloween and Christmas setup for 2023. She will require help repairing some
items throughout the year and setting up as the rides draw near. You will be hearing more about that come summer.
We have scheduled a busy year again running the trains and we will also be busy with restoration projects, track work, and building and site improvement projects. Strategic Planning continues and some changes for the better should result.
Please look at the schedule near the end of the newsletter, noting the training events. More info will come from the individuals charged with those events, but save the dates well ahead of time.
Finally, if you have not paid 2023 dues, please do so ASAP. Robert would love to hear from you.
Thanks for all you do for our Museum. 2023 is turning into a great year!
Last Run – William “Bill” Kinchloe
I am sad to report the passing of long-time Member Bill Kinchloe on 6 February at age 85. He had a real love of railroading, both with our organization and in “the real railroad” world. He was Chairman of the North Carolina Railroad, the NC Ports Railway Commission and the NC Ports Authority Board among other leadership positions. He was a life member of the East Coast Chapter, NRHS (and later NCRM) since 1970, and very active when located at Farmville, NC.
New Member Orientation Session
The next quarterly new member orientation session will be offered on Saturday March 25 from 10 am to noon. It will be held under the covered area behind the yard office, and include a tour of the property along with some of our ongoing projects.
The new member orientation session is intended to give new members information about our history, bylaws, how to get information, who’s who, and most importantly how to get involved as a volunteer (and have fun).
This session is open to those who have been members for up to 2 years. This is not a substitute for the rules and safety training sessions necessary to get involved with train operations, but we will explain how to attend those sessions, too. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to either Dennis Winchell or Victor Varney.
New Uploads to the NCRM’s Shared Drop Box Folder
by Victor Varney
A few new items were recently uploaded to the NCRM’s shared Drop Box folder. This includes easy access to the Save the 10 slide show presentation from the Annual Membership Meeting on January 21, 2023, plus a folder with select videos. There are also folders including photos and videos from several of our members. I will post more from me soon. Find all of these in the 2022 Save the 10 folder.
Also, now available, are two versions of a 2004 video with NHVR Railroad Excitement TV commercials. The second version has an additional 1 hour plus of raw video. This includes some really great historic videos from the old days and a special video dated 1998 from the Chatham County Historical Society about the building of Jordan Lake with a brief mention of the rail relocation.
Click here to see these and a lot more things that our members can see and download. If YOU have something you would like to upload and share, please contact Victor Varney.
Strategic Planning Committee Meeting
This is a reminder that the Strategic Planning Committee will meet at the New Hill Community Center on 7 March from 7-9PM. Please contact Jim Jatko with questions.
Back in the “Old Days” – Moving #71 – as told by M. Gray Lackey
New Hope Valley 71 (now partially painted as Becker Sand and Gravel 3) was built in March of 1945 as construction number 27994 and originally delivered as USMC 152145 to Port Chicago, CA. At some point it made its way east and was assigned to Camp LeJeune, NC. 71 possibly worked alongside our Whitcomb since it was assigned to Camp LeJeune as well.
Acquired by Becker Sand and Gravel for use at the Senter plant south of Lillington, NC in the early 1970s, it was renumbered as #3 and painted Red/White/Blue for the Nations’ bicentennial in 1976. Becker was a well-known large operation that was railfan friendly, operating upwards of 30 (GE 44 and 80 ton and Alco S1, S2, S4) locomotives at one time across their five pits in NC and SC.
In 1989 the New Hope Valley was looking for another locomotive and it was known the #3 and another 80 tonner, #25, were sitting out of service at the Senter operation. Contacts were made and Becker would give us the locomotive if we wanted it. Our original mechanic Roger Barham went with others to look things over and see if It was thought to able to run again. Roger thought it would run, so the locomotive was accepted. Several trips were made to salvage needed parts from the 25 including a radiator and some engine parts. In the meantime, a scrapping contract was awarded to cut up a crane and several ore jennies that had been used to move sand from the pit to the washer.
The scrapper was told explicitly not to touch the locomotives. Since the out of service equipment was out of the normal area of operations, the scrappers took it upon themselves to cut up the locomotives as well and do that first, contrary to instructions from Becker. They started with cutting up the 25. They were almost done with the 25 when Becker operations saw what they were doing and told them to stop. Everything above the trucks on the 25 was done for and they were getting ready to start cutting on the 3. The scrapper was summarily dismissed and told not to return – #3 survived, but just barely.
Arrangements were made for movement in May of 1989 with Yarbrough Transfer out of Winston Salem to do the hauling. Bill’s Mobile Crane would handle the loading at Lillington and Raleigh Crane would do the unloading at Bonsal.
Moving day came, the cranes arrived, got set up and it wasn’t long until the truck arrived. Notice I said truck – singular. The driver was asked where the other trucks were that were to move the locomotive trucks and he said that was all there was, somehow only one truck was sent instead of three. Winston Salem had seen F5 tornados move through a couple weeks earlier and many phone lines were still out including ones to Yarbrough’s office. Oh boy, big trouble! Cranes bill by the hour and we didn’t have trucks to move the locomotive trucks and we would not have the locomotive trucks to unload the body on.
The two most important members on hand that day were David Campbell who had an early car mount cell phone, and Blair Slaughter who was working for the Slaughter Company. Using David’s cell phone, Blair immediately started calling construction and hauling companies that the Slaughter Company had dealt with. That was back when ALL cell calls were billed by the minute and roaming charges were in effect-David was not looking forward to his cell bill. Among the several Blair called was CC Mangum Construction company. CC Mangum had two Lowboys they could dispatch immediately due to some previous wet weather prolonging jobs and keeping equipment from being moved to new projects.
We told the Bill’s Crane crew what was going on and we would load the body, send one crane back and keep the second crane to load the locomotive trucks when CC Mangum arrived. We loaded the body with no issue and Bill’s started packing one crane up to send back. We had just left the plant with the body when we met both CC Mangum trucks coming in. We lost maybe an hour on one crane. The locomotive’s trucks would be on their way soon.
We got to Bonsal and there were no cranes waiting – what now? While the truck was spotting up, we made another call, this time to Raleigh Crane. We were told they had a problem getting one of the cranes started, one was currently on the way and the other had just left the yard on Old Garner Road in Raleigh. We would not be charged for any extra time because they had the issue.
The first crane rolled in right as we got off the phone and we started to get him set up. We just got rigged and the second crane rolled in. Shortly after the second crane arrived, the trucks came in and were unloaded. We made the lift, pulled the trucks under with a Farmall tractor and sent everyone on their way home.
What a day!!! Now to get the engine running…
Work started to get 3, now numbered 71 to run. The missing radiator was installed and water put in both ends with no leaking. There were some oil plumbing and wiring issues worked on to get all the fluid and electrical problems corrected, at least what we could see. Batteries were a big issue. Not wanting to buy new batteries yet (not to mention we couldn’t afford them), we took the old batteries out, flushed the cells out and put new acid in. We charged and checked and after several days put them back in. The engines had been pre-lubed with oil and the cooling system had water.
As usual with weak batteries, the compression release was pulled and the starter button was pushed. One engine turned over for the first time in many years. With some judicious applications of starting fluid, the #1 engine came to life and was idling! After a few minutes to recharge the batteries the same steps were taken with the #2 engine and we had success. Both engines were running at
idle and were slowly increased in speed, not wide open, but above idle. It was a big step.
Work continued and movement back and forth happened. On New Year’s Day 1991 #71 in tattered green paint made its’ first run to New Hill. Sadly, Roger Barham had some very serious health issues but had soldiered on and was in the cab that first run. Roger couldn’t do a lot by that time, but acting as a mentor, he told people what to do to get things done.
A worn-out locomotive was saved, brought back to life and served us for another 15 years until there was just no life left to give. #71 is still around in our parking lot, painted on one side as Becker 3 in Red/White/Blue (and still serving as a parts donor for newer sister 1686).
[Editor’s note: If you have photos or other info about long-ago events at the NCRM, please contact your editor. You can submit your own “Back in the Old Days…” article with pictures about anything (within reason) from our past for the Telegrapher. If you can rough out the ideas, we can work with you to craft an article to benefit the entire membership. – CT]
NCRM In the News
On 1 February, the NCRM hosted Jenna Rae Gaertner of Spectrum 1 News as she filmed a story on the increasing popularity of railroads. She was interested in the history of rail travel and why it declined in the years after World War II and why the current resurgence. She was escorted by Victor Varney on a tour of our facilities, including the yard and the Garden Railroad, with an introduction by Tom Hutchinson, Superintendent of the G Scale group, followed by a 1-hour locomotive ride on 1686 with Chris Tilley, Engineer and Rob Grau as host. The footage aired on 16 February on the Spectrum News1 webpage. You can see the piece by clicking here.
NCRM Rules and Safety Training Day Coming Soon
The first iteration of the NHV Rules and Safety training for 2023 will occur on 25 March at 1PM. This is right after the New Member Orientation class and is open to all. As a reminder, FRA regulations require all operating crew to attend at least one of these sessions per year to maintain crew currency standards. The training will cover the NHV Rulebook, basic train operations and passenger safety during ride events. The second session will be held on 23 September at 9AM. All members are encouraged to attend the March iteration so everyone is current and available on opening day, 1 (and 2) April 2023 for the Hop Into Spring rides. Rules testing will be conducted for all personnel requiring this biennial test. Please contact Rules & Safety Committee Chair Kevin Edwards to sign up for the training event. Don’t forget to bring your Rulebooks and Timetables to the class and come prepared to operate a train as part of the class.
NHVRY Uniform Shirts and How to Obtain Them
by Cindy Grau
The uniform shirt worn by most members is a khaki/tan short sleeved shirt with the dark green NHV logo embroidered over one pocket and your name over the other pocket. To order yours, you need to email me, Cindy Grau with your name, the name you want on your shirt and the correct size. As these shirts are custom made, they cannot be returned for a refund so please check your size before your order. The price will be $30.00 payable upon receiving the shirt at the gift shop. Long sleeve shirts are also available upon request for colder weather, but we don’t yet know what the additional cost would be. Also, If anyone is interested in a Wednesday Crew short sleeve T-Shirt, there are a few still available. If there is a great enough demand, I can place an order for any size I might not have on hand.
Fundraising Committee Co-Chairs Announced!
Jim Jatko and Marco Zarate have been appointed as Co-Chairs of the NCRM Fundraising Committee. Look for more info from them in coming months. They have been busy working on grants to support some of our larger restoration projects. If you are interested in helping them, please contact your editor for more details. This is a critical museum function!
Around the Yard Things Remain Busy!
If you do not receive crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating!
Open Invite to Attend NRHS Video Conference Meetings in March
NCRM members are invited to join our National Rep Victor Varney on two NRHS video conference meetings on March 10 and 11. There will be an Advisory Conference video conference meeting at 7 pm on Friday March 10. A NRHS Board Meeting video conference call on Saturday March 11 at 11 am. There is no cost to attend either of these meetings. Both meetings approx. 2 hours long. Stay as long as you like. If you have been curious, this would be a good opportunity to learn about the NRHS and how it operates. Yes, the NRHS is the organization that some of our members are still associated with, and the provider of several grants to us over the last couple years.
Please contact Victor Varney to get the video conference link information.
Local Rail Historical Community Loses a Major Player
by Tim Carroll
Matthew C. Bumgarner, 56, of Hickory passed away after a brief illness on January 26, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Dawn Bumgarner; daughter, Kara; daughter, Anna; and daughter, Samantha.
Those acquainted with Matt know he was never at a loss for words. As an author himself, Matt took great inspiration from his favorite American humorist, Mark Twain. Much like Twain, Matt was a champion of the underdog and an outspoken progressive thinker. This Twain quote conjures a vision of who Matt was: “Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” –M. Twain These are words that Matt lived by.
Matthew authored numerous books and published even more under his company, Tarheel Press. Matt’s publishing ventures were specific to the subjects that fascinated him: the Civil War and local railroad history. His approach to cataloging the history of the South is best summarized in his own words: “Have fun, preserve your heritage, and pass the knowledge along.” He had an insatiable desire to catalog every crumb of local history he could uncover.
Matt worked tirelessly with friends at the Newton Depot to uncover, preserve, and document local railway history. He was also an active member with the Alexander Chapter NRHS. As an acting board member and secretary to the Newton Depot Authority, Matt could always be found on the weekends in his favorite train station. Depot volunteers who worked with Matt knew well that there was always a new project to tackle–be it bush-whacking a locomotive out of the woods, restoring a Ford Model T depot hack, or organizing the yearly Hickory Train Show. This is the kind of work Matt lived for. The Newton Depot train museum was one of Matt’s many lifelong passions. Matt will be cremated and, in accordance with his wishes, his ashes will be spread on the tracks at the Oyama train yard. I had personally known Matt for
over 20 years and were close friends. He had a wealth of knowledge of the local NC railroad history. He will be missed by many.
Late Breaking #17 Steam News
by Mike MacLean
Steam Operations Corporation (SOC) was at Bonsal February 18 and 19 to restart the comprehensive inspection if steam locomotive 17. During this time, the project plan was reviewed and a punch list of action items was drawn up; both for SOC to take with them, and for volunteers to complete before SOC’s next visit.
SOC completed a stud plan for the steam dome, running board brackets, cab accessories and jacketing. The boiler checks were removed and disassembled (see pic), and with the turret and dry pipe were taken to a machine shop for finishing. Work on locating a crew capable of hot riveting has started.
17 has entered into a 30-day notice period with the FRA. During this time, the FRA will have the opportunity to perform an interior inspection of the boiler. After this 30-day period, we will be lifting the boiler off its frame and onto its side on a flatbed trailer for Steam Operations Corporation (SOC) to work on the furnace bearers, first course patch, tube sheet patch and smokebox. SOC is preparing drawings and a lift plan this week which will drive additional prep items to be scheduled. This lift is tentatively scheduled for March 26. Once the boiler is on the trailer, it will be backed under the shelter next to 17’s running gear and frame, out of the way for opening day.
The welder from SOC stayed for the remainder of the week and completed work on the rear tube sheet (See pic). He finished a day early and returned home on Friday.
Meanwhile, the volunteers have been busy with preparations at Bonsal.
Art Kotz finished cleaning and oiling the stay bolt stock and rivets. Scott Smith pulled the old forestry trailer around and graciously donated wood to re-deck the trailer. Gray Lackey completed cleaning and priming the deck surface. Steve DeGaetano and Matt Lindenmuth finished decking the trailer. It is now ready to hold the boiler for SOC’s next visit. (see sequential pics below)
The smokebox has been relocated under the shelter so the exterior of the smoke box can be wire brushed down to bare metal and painted with red oxide primer. The studs/nuts for holding the top of the smoke box together have been wire brushed, coated with anti-seize and tightened. The spot welds were removed from the front ring and from the top seam of the smoke box.
The next steam work day is March 4th. We’ll continue to prep 17 for SOC’s return, work on the brakes on 309, and do some switching.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the February work session a success. We had great participation from a large number of volunteers and got a lot of work accomplished. Well done! [Ed note: If you don’t know what some of these things mean, ask a Steam Crew guy to explain how the locomotive and the parts mentioned above work.]